In 2020, Black People were asked to lead. A few years later, we are now being fired for it.

Whitney Alese
ZORA
Published in
6 min readJan 21, 2024

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2020 felt like the beginning of the long awaited, much fought for change the US needed.

The overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations in defense of Black life erupted not just across the nation, but the globe. Chants of “I can’t breathe” and “say their names”. Books about race, Black history, racism, and structural inequality, flew from the shelves. It felt like everyone from everyday people to stars to politicians were saying Black Lives Matter.

It felt like a true racial awakening.

Organizations took note, making their own shifts, many choosing to open their own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion offices and hiring for those positions exploded.

Less than a few years later, many of those efforts have disintegrated. The feelings of a national shift deteriorated to a painful reality: that alleged racial reckoning did not really reckon like it was supposed to reckon. DEI offices or positions, many of which were relatively new and ready to effect change in the organizations that created them dissolved, leaving those called to those positions bewildered, but not surprised.

Hollywood’s loss in DEI leadership was one of the most noticeable. In 2023, over the course of mere months, multiple leaders either left or were laid off from their positions.

Latondra Newton, a six year veteran of Disney and it’s chief diversity officer, left Disney June of 2023.

In that same month, Discovery laid off its Senior Vice President of diversity, equity and inclusion, Karen Horne.

That announcement was followed by the Academy announcing the departure of Jeanell English, it’s Executive Vice President of Impact and Inclusion.

In July of the same year, Warner Brothers announced it’s Executive Vice President of worldwide marketing, Terra Potts, was leaving after 13 years and previously leading the WB’s multicultural marketing and publicity.

Vernā Myers, Netflix’s first ever head of inclusion strategy, a role she held for five years, left that role in September of 2023.

Entertainment isn’t the only place where DEI efforts are suffering. Corporate…

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Whitney Alese
ZORA
Writer for

Whitney Alese is an award winning writer & creator featured in WIRED Magazine, I-D Magazine, NBC, & Chalkboard Magazine.